Love's 3-point Barrage Sparks Wolves To First Win




Kelsey Kroll
Wolves Editorial/Social Media Associate

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The win the Minnesota Timberwolves have been seeking finally came their way Sunday night after rallying past the reigning NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks 99-82 at Target Center.

The win snapped a frustrating start to the season with three consecutive close defeats, as Minnesota displayed the perseverance necessary to notch a victory they knew would happen with time.

But what truly captured the win and the attention of the 15,115 fans in attendance was the explosive play executed by Minnesota forward Kevin Love.

Love was unstoppable, leading the Wolves with 25 points, 17 rebounds and put an exclamation point on the win with five 3-pointers to help Minnesota ice the victory.

"It's a new year and we're the best team in 2012 right now," Love said. "We feel good and we got the monkey off our back, so to speak, and we beat a good team tonight."

Even with the team's first win against a championship team, Love was already focusing on improvements to make and taking things one game at a time.

"We are just looking everyday to get better and tomorrow we are living in the present," Love said. "Tomorrow we are coming out against San Antonio and hopefully have a good game. But we're going to enjoy this tonight."

It's the fourth time in Love's career he's hit five in a game, and on Sunday they came when Minnesota needed it most. With the defending champion Mavericks rallying—cutting the Wolves' fourth-quarter down to two—Love connected on two big 3-pointers that started what would become a 15-0 run to end the game.

Combined with Anthony Tolliver's two 3-pointers in the final three minutes, the Wolves extended the lead to 16 and never looked back.

"All night long he hit timely threes when we were making runs," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Love's performance. "He's improved every year and is even better this year. They had a lot of guys play well. We're going to have to do a better job of not allowing guys to play as well and we made some good runs but it's very difficult playing from behind in this league."

Fortunately for the Wolves, the 16 turnovers committed against Dallas did not cost them, but it's something the team is continuing to work on.

"We are still allowing far too many points but a lot of that is because of our turnovers, not because of our defense," Love said. "As long as we keep limiting our turnovers, especially down the stretch—when we are giving ourselves a chance to win, we'll win more ball games."

Rookie guard Ricky Rubio showed his scoring skills can, at times, be just as deadly as his passing. Rubio sparked Minnesota's offense in the second half, finishing with a career-high 14 point going with his seven assists. And while Rubio continues to move at a pace his teammates are still learning to work with, Tolliver was pleased to show that he is catching on to his tempo.

"I told him (Rubio), I know I'm getting used to playing with you when I actually expected him to bounce pass the ball through Dirk's legs to me in the corner so that is why I was so ready for the shot," Tolliver said. "He made it perfectly and hit me right in the hands. From day one we've played pickup and I've always got to have my hands ready with that guy.

"We're just continuing to work hard. We learn from every game and we got some stuff to clean up from this game and we will take it into tomorrow and continue on from there."

The Timberwolves took control of the game with three minutes left in the second and held on midway through the third. During that stretch, Minnesota outscored the Mavericks 23-6 and turned a two-point deficit into what at one point was a 15-point lead.

But Dallas came back. Dirk Nowitzki was uncharacteristically cold from the floor through much of the game, but his seven points on three straight possessions in the fourth cut Dallas' deficit from nine down to two with 5:23 to play.

That's when Love and the Wolves came alive from 3-point range, burying the Mavericks for good.

Nowitzki finished the game with 21 points, while Delonte West had 13 points and Jason Terry finished with 10.

For Minnesota, Luke Ridnour had 11 points, Tolliver finished with 13 and JJ Barea and Michael Beasley finished with eight apiece.

"We responded against a very good team tonight," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "They made runs at us and we responded each time. Down the stretch I thought we executed really well and made stops when they had the ball. That's what you have to do to win games down the stretch."


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